Nature has given us two wonderful ways in which we could do this.
One is talking and the other is crying.
Talking about how we feel is really one of the most adequate ways of expressing feelings.
It takes courage, timing, opportunity and a good listener. This is important.
We can only talk about painful emotions when we are ready to. Grief, pain and hurt can often render us silent and encourage us to hold our feelings within. This is an important part of the process and one that should not be rushed.
However, when the time comes to talk, then we need to be able to trust a patient, understanding listener.
How to Express Emotions - ListeningA listener needs to listen and really hear, to be tuned in to the speaker and to hear with every part of their mind, body and soul.
Listening is best done with plenty of eye contact.
Even if the speaker finds this difficult, a good listener will be completely engaged in this manner.
People often stop talking because they have identified that the listener has ceased to be really present for them.
If you are fully focused in talking about your feelings, you can tell how your energy is being received. When the listener fails to identify fully with you, it can be a palpable feeling and one that can arrest your flow of words.
When identifying with you, the listener needs to be aware of not interrupting your flow of thinking by bringing in their own material or agenda. This takes skill, but is part of being present for the other.
Reflecting, or mirroring what is being heard can greatly help the speaker to dig deeper into their feelings. Listening for what isn't said and helping the speaker to seek this out, is a valuable listening skill too.
Learning to read body language, the words that are expressed though hand movements, the shuffling of feet, clutching of the chest, all reveal hidden concerns and can be brought out through careful prompting on the listener's part.
Questions such as, when have you felt this before and struggled to speak about, can often help the speaker to address memories.
If you need to talk and have trouble finding a good listener, I would encourage you to seek out professional help.
How to Express Emotions - TalkingIt takes courage to address our feelings. So much of what we experience has been felt throughout our lifetime and stored deep within us as if on a tape recorder.
Speaking out about our feelings can be like pressing play, and allowing the free flow of feelings to come out.
This means we need to have an adequate feelings vocabulary in order to make our feelings known. It also presupposes we can understand what it is we are feeling.
We can feel frightened of telling about the thoughts we have kept hidden deep within us, embarrassed to see ourselves clearly and ashamed of what we hear ourselves saying.
Often we can feel guilty about taking up time and space to express our emotions. But these too are only feelings and once we embark on the notion of expressing them, the reward is in the relief we can feel once we have let them out.
Courageously revealing our private shames, blames, guilt and fears can often put them into clearer perspective and certainly makes us feel freedom from the weight of negative emotions held within.
How to Express Emotions -Here is the text of a person speaking out their feelings:.
I have transcribed this directly from a recording with a client.
(Permission granted and names have been changed to protect identity).
I'm really angry - yes, really, really angry.
It makes me feel tight and tense.
I can feel it in my shoulders and neck and my stomach feels clenched - sort of sick.
I want to hit out and throw something - no I don't.
I just want to yell. Really yell.
No, no, I think I want to cry, sorry, sorry.
Now I can't stop. I feel dreadful, really upset.
(Cries quietly for a few minutes).
Actually, maybe I don't feel angry at all - what I'm really feeling is hurt, yes, really hurt.
What happened during this talking time was that the person discovered that what she thought was intense anger was really intense hurt. Once she had spoken out about feeling angry, she was able to feel the emotion underneath it which was hurt. She was then more readily able to identify what her feelings were telling her.
How to Express Emotions - JournallingJournalling is another wonderful way of speaking out. Journalling is especially valuable if there just isn't anyone to listen.
Writing requires a language of emotions and to that effect it is a good idea to become conversant with the various names for emotions, both positive and negative.
A proven method is to get into the habit of keeping a feelings journal. Not only is this completely private, but it helps you to be gentle and kind to your self while allowing you the time to observe. Writing in it daily is a wonderful way of getting to know your feelings more clearly.
Just allowing yourself to write "freeflow" allows for your feelings to tumble out onto the page. Sometimes we can be surprised by the clarity of our writing - pent up feelings reveal themselves on the page.
It's also a great idea to regularly record your emotions while going through tough times. Often a pattern to our thinking is revealed in this way, and blocked ideas find clarity. Journalling is a powerful tool and not one to be underestimated.
Read about Journalling here
How to express emotions through crying.
Crying is a natural way of releasing emotions from our bodies. Those, for whom crying comes easily, often remark about how much better they feel after a good cry.
But for many, there is much fear associated with appearing vulnerable and letting go, shame about being seen to cry, or a life time of suppressed tears that just will not come.
More articles in the Happy Child series:
Emotional Intelligence - What is it?
Having emotional intelligence means not only recognising your emotions but acting on them reflectively and rationally. It also involves your ability to feel and express a whole range of feelings and to understand your resistances, boundaries and projections while moving toward emotional wholeness.
Working with Emotional Intelligence
Here are some useful steps to take in working with emotional intelligence. If this is new to you, be kind, gentle and patient with yourself as you open to different and more vigorous ways of thinking and being.
Social Competence - developing social intelligence
Social competence is learned by children through observation and participation. Children learn social competence from how their parents treat them, and how their parents treat others. Then they put it into practice on each other.
Building Emotional Intelligence and Resilience
We need to be able to step back, allow ourselves the time to feel our feelings and to look for the messages they convey to us. We need to understand why we feel in particular ways and what these feelings mean for us. Then we are able to change negative emotions into positive ones.